by Jesse Wieten
THE HAGUE, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The victory of center right and center left in the Dutch general election that closed on Wednesday shows that people have chosen realism over extremism, political scientists told Xinhua.
According to the preliminary poll results, outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte's VVD party (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy) won 41 seats of the 150-member parliament, while the Labor Party (PvdA) claimed 40 seats.
The right-wing populist Party of Freedom PVV of Geert Wilders went down from 24 seats in the previous elections in 2010 to 13 now. The CDA (Christian Democrats) also declined to 13 from 21, Socialist Party (SP) retained its original 15 seats.
Philip van Praag, associate professor of political science at the University of Amsterdam, said lots of voters switched their support from the SP to the PvdA, while many voters loyal to PVV refrained from voting by staying at home.
Kees Aarts, political science professor at the University of Twente, said the euro zone debt crisis has played a role to help change voters' choice.
"They chose to vote realistically, to vote for the center. The people are very much aware that a realistic financial policy must be implemented. Extreme positions regarding the European Union (EU) could have enormous consequences...The anti-Europe-sound did not work," he said.
He also said PvdA and VVD are partners in terms of European policies. But they have a different vision on budget cuts.
Van Praag said the two parties differ on how much power could be ceded to the EU. The VVD is against a more powerful Brussels, adding that they are both in favor of strict budget discipline, although the PvdA wants it to be materialized at a slower pace.
However, Aarts cautioned that the two parties have a division on socio-economic policy.
"Where do they compensate the costs of the crisis? Everyone says that the PvdA and VVD have to reign with each other, but that is contrary to what they have said in the election campaigns. It is a paradox. The anti-Europe-sound has not worked, but the result is that moderate left and right are reinforced. The consequence is that they are dependent on each other. That is very difficult, given the campaigns."
As winning parties, the two should now embark on the task of forming a new government, which is quite difficult.
Two years ago, a minority government was formed after lengthy negotiations between the VVD and the CDA.
The two parties reached an agreement with the PVV in order to achieve a small majority in the parliament. However, the government fell in April as the PVV withdrew from it after a disagreement on budget.
The last time VVD and PvdA won a majority together was in the 1998 elections, when they formed a government with D66, the democrats.
Now both sides called this so-called "purple" combination not likely before the elections. They could also add CDA to the coalition.
"But I think the CDA is too right for the PvdA," said Aarts. A combination of solely PvdA and VVD is possible, but both parties do not have a majority in the First Chamber, or the senate.
"Inevitably, the VVD must first talk with the PvdA," said Van Praag. "Forming a government together is possible, but they probably need a third party as a mediator, D66 or CDA...It will be long and difficult negotiations."
Ruling Dutch party wins general elections
THE HAGUE, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- For the second time in a row, the Dutch general elections are won by outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte's ruling party VVD, with the rival Labor Party (PvdA) finishing second after 98 percent of the votes counted.
The VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy) won 41, ten more than in 2010, out of the total 150 parliamentary seats, while the Labor Party (PvdA) got 39 seats. The number of seats of both parties was much higher than the poll in recent weeks. Full story